The announcement comes a day after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov lashed out at Iran’s nuclear programme in one of the Russian government’s rare but trenchant spasms of suspicion about Tehran’s true nuclear motives – and how Moscow has helped further them.
Russia has already delivered nuclear fuel under a $1 billion contract to build the Bushehr plant, on the Gulf coast in southwest Iran, and Iranian officials say the reactor is likely to be started up in mid-2008.
The Iranian project is one of several Russia is currently running abroad as it jockeys for position among world nuclear merchants to gain a foothold in the projected nuclear renaissance, which is taking place under the auspicies of reducing the emission of greenhouse gasses.
China and India are on board with Russia, and Great Britain announced in December an ambitious and highly criticised plan to build more nuclear reactors to meet projected rises in energy needs.
Arab nations are also getting a boost from the government of France’s Nicolas Sarkozy, which is underwriting the building of a nuclear reactor in Libya, and is in talks to do the same in Egypt.
Russia to nearly double staff in Iran
Russia’s state –run Atomstroiexport, which is building the Bushehr plant, will boost staff by about 1,000 from 1,300 at present, RIA reported, quoting the firm's chief, Sergei Shmatko.
"In the next few weeks 200 to 300 specialists will come to the station," RIA quoted Shmatko as saying in Bushehr.
"In the course of the year we plan to boost the number of specialists by 1,000 people."
He said Russia and Iran would create a joint venture to run the Bushehr plant.
The US State Department, the world’s most vocal critic of the Iranian nuclear venture, had no immediate comment on Thursday regarding the doubling up of Russian staff at the Bushehr plant.
Iran on track for uranium and plutonium based bomb – is Russia to thank?
But State Department officials have publicly and privately insinuated for years that Russian nuclear know-how in Iran is likely spreading beyond assistance at Bushehr and has likely assisted in the construction of Tehran’s contentious centrifuge programme and it’s underground heavy water reactor, which is used in the production of plutonium.
|Hours after Lavrov criticised Iran's ostentatious display of nuclear prowess, worrying the world, Moscow announced it would be doubling the number of Russian technicians on the ground in Iran.|